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Education does not protect against age-related memory problems

While older people with a higher level of education have better memory function, this does not protect them from declines in memory and thinking as they age, say researchers from University College London. 
Educated_Senior-iStock.jpg

While older people with a higher level of education have better memory function, this does not protect them from declines in memory and thinking as they age, say researchers from University College London.

They studied changes in memory and cognitive performance in more than 11,000 people aged 65 and over from ten European countries, including Spain, France, Germany and Denmark. Participants were tested on entry to the study and then at two-year intervals during the eight-year study period.

Immediate recall was tested by asking participants to recall a ten-word list. They were then asked to recall the list again after five minutes to test their delayed recall.

Dementia unnatural

The researchers found that although older people who are more educated perform better

...

While older people with a higher level of education have better memory function, this does not protect them from declines in memory and thinking as they age, say researchers from University College London. 


Memory was tested by asking participants to recall a list of words, and then
again five minutes later. Picture: iStock 

They studied changes in memory and cognitive performance in more than 11,000 people aged 65 and over from ten European countries, including Spain, France, Germany and Denmark. Participants were tested on entry to the study and then at two-year intervals during the eight-year study period. 

Immediate recall was tested by asking participants to recall a ten-word list. They were then asked to recall the list again after five minutes to test their delayed recall. 

Dementia unnatural 

The researchers found that although older people who are more educated perform better in memory tests, there was no difference in the rate of memory decline as they aged compared to their less educated peers. 

Alzheimer’s Society head of research and development James Pickett said the findings ‘reinforce that dementia is not a natural part of ageing.’ 


Cadar D et al (2017) An International Evaluation of Cognitive Reserve and Memory Changes in Early Old Age in 10 European Countries. Neuroepidemiology. doi: 10.1159/000452276 

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